On an eight-fight win streak last November, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Brazil 1 featherweight winner Rony Jason had a golden opportunity heading into his UFC Fight Night 32 bout with Octagon veteran Jeremy Stephens.
Unfortunately for him, however, things didn’t go as planned, as Lil’ Heathen” gave Jason his first Octagon loss with a vicious head kick a mere 40 seconds into the bout. After the fight, Jason was understandably angry, but he made matters worse by destroying a wall backstage, earning a trip to the hospital, a 180-day medical suspension, and an additional 30-day suspension from the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) due to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Now set to take on fellow TUF alum Steven Siler on the main card of this Sunday night’s (March 23, 2014) UFC Fight Night 38 in Natal, Brazil, Jason is willing to admit what he did wrong, offering an explanation of his actions to MMAjunkie.com today:
“It was my first time to suffer a loss like that. I felt emasculated. Plus Brazilian fans easily count you out, unlike fans in America who are more loyal. I felt great before that fight, and I expected it to launch me into the top 15 or even top 10.
I dreamed I would retire undefeated from the UFC, but that didn’t happen. And my unsportsmanlike conduct, elbowing through that door backstage, it was a lapse of judgment on my part.”
Jason was on the hunt for a Top 15 rankings spot, but instead he’ll face a long climb back up the ladder in the tough UFC 145-pound division. Jason readily admits that he took Stephens too lightly and was accustomed to winning his fights, something he paid the ultimate price for:
“It think I learned many good things from my loss. I was becoming very passive. People who have followed my career for some time know how aggressive I can be. That’s why most of my victories came in the first round. It’s hard to change things when you’re winning. I was undefeated for almost five years, so I was used to winning.
Chatting with someone, eating popcorn or watching a movie – that’s the same (way I was) fighting Jeremy Stephens. I was very relaxed, too relaxed. That’s a sin I will no longer commit.”
It sounds like he’s going into UFC Fight Night 38 bout against Siler with a renewed focus, knowing that he can no longer coast to victory in the shark infested waters of the UFC. He has to get past Siler first, but Jason is setting his sights quite high for the future.
He told MMAFighting.com that he wants a rematch with a man he lost a debatable split decision to early on in his career, current UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao:
"Who knows, maybe I’ll go down (to 135) one day. I will see what I’m going to do after this fight. I would love to have a rematch with Barao one day, at 135 or 145.
I only knew jiu-jitsu back then, I never really trained boxing or anything like that before. I beat Fernando (Gardner) the night before and fought Barao for three rounds.
It was a controversial decision, I don’t think he won. I spent two minutes with a triangle locked in the first round and two judges gave him the round."
That’s an admirable goal for sure, but let’s not forget Jason is fighting an unranked fighter attempting to right the wrongs of his most devastating loss. He’s not even in the same weight class as Barao, and is most likely light years away from even being on the “Baron’s” radar.
Is Jason’s focus once again in the wrong place, or does he truly have the talent to right the ship and move on to face some of the best talent the UFC has to offer?